For the first time since the beginning of the season, a whole game in the Big Ten West race will have a large number of roster unknowns.
Illinois (5-1, 2-1) may need to rely on some reinforcements for its game against Minnesota (Saturday 11 a.m., Big Ten Network), which will feature the top two scoring defenses in the nation as well as two of the top four teams in the division.
Right before the Illini’s 9-6 victory against Iowa last weekend, several starters either sustained injuries or had to be benched. Isaiah Williams, the team’s leading receiver and a native of St. Louis, and quarterback Tommy DeVito were two of the biggest losses. Taz Nicholson, the starting corner, also left the game due to a concussion.
While Illinois hasn’t yet revealed its plan for DeVito, Nicholson and Williams (Trinity Catholic) have made strides. Isaac Darkangelo, a linebacker for Illinois, will return, according to head coach Bret Bielema. Due to the absence of kicker Caleb Griffin, Will McManus will be in charge of kickoffs, and Fabrizio Pinton will be responsible for field goals.
In the event that DeVito is unable to attend, backup Art Sitkowski would step in. Last week, Sitkowski entered the game for Illinois during the first quarter and guided the Illini to two field goal drives to secure the victory over the Hawkeyes. Sitkowski came off the bench frequently for Illinois last season.